Nonprofits feeling the pinch

An increase in the number of nonprofits and a steady decrease of state and federal funding has Tara Jenrich just a little on edge.

The director of Moffat County Partners is banking on two grants of $60,000 each to help keep the organization afloat -- much-needed money for the nonprofit organization that has seen its budget slashed more than 50 percent from a few years ago.

"It's a scary thing," Jenrich said. "I was on the Internet today looking for more funding. We're really starting to sweat."

Partners has served Moffat County residents since 1998, but its head organization started 30 years earlier.

A few years ago, the organization that teams adults with youngsters to serve as positive role models operated on about $240,000 a year.

This year, Jenrich hopes to hear soon about the results of a total of $120,000 in grant applications. She's not sure what will happen to the nonprofit if those requests aren't filled.

"I don't think anybody says we want to fold, but it's in the back of everybody's mind," she said. "I've talked to affiliates across the state, and it's a statewide and nationwide problem."

According to the Colorado Association of Nonprofit Organi-zations, state budgetary cuts are having a rippling effect on the nonprofit sector.

Nonprofits that do not re--ceive state funding are facing an increase in competition from individual and corporate donors, according to the group's Web site.

Cindy Biskup, former director of Grand Futures Prevention Coalition, said the Moffat Coun-ty nonprofit also is feeling the strain.

The group that was started locally in 1995 was given a $350,000-a-year grant for five years. Its primary focus is to provide substance abuse prevention through training for youth and adults.

But meeting those goals becomes more difficult when start-up dollars dry up.

This year, Biskup said, the group's largest grant request is $100,000, but it requires a $120,000 match.

"There's a lot more agencies vying for the same money," Biskup said. "It's a huge struggle."

To cope with the funding shortfall, the group is making changes toward becoming a foundation, Biskup said, of which she'll serve as a grant writer.

That means board members will hold off on hiring a new director until the group's plans are finalized, she said.

Nonprofits also can run into trouble when a community doesn't have a clear grasp of what a group does, Jenrich said.

That can be problematic as more granting agencies require proof of matching community financial support.

Still, after a seven-year history in the community offering one-on-one and group mentoring, Jenrich was asked recently why Partners is needed along with a Boys & Girls Club.

"I'm not sure if the community is aware of all the different services we provide," she said. "I'm surprised at the misconceptions of people. I'm continuously explaining that the more support we have for our kids, the better."

Partners clients often aren't the same children served by the Boys & Girls Club of Craig, Jenrich said.

The group has offered one-on-one mentoring for 77 children and has group-mentored 277 children locally.

Those are substantial figures considering the program's rural base, Jenrich said.

"For our size of volunteer poll, it's a good number," she said.

"We've realized that we've helped a lot of kids, and we're doing our darnedest to survive."

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craig-daily-press.com.

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